Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas y'all! (Yeah, I'm from that part of the country.)

I'm thankful that I still have both sets of parents, a number of siblings, my wife, my kids, and a number of friends and still-welcome strays (shouts to the Garage Troll) who've passed through our lives in the past year. Here's hoping that you have good fortune and quiet lives in the coming year.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Home down for maintenance

I'm offline for a couple days, rebuilding my home system with a commercial version. If that doesn't work well, I'll temporarily switch to Ubuntu. Primary need is a real-time kernel and ability to compile Zaptel.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Of course! We buy our son a laptop, with 1GB of memory, for Christmas/moving out and industry announces that it's increasing the standard to 4GB. Augh!!


Friday, December 21, 2007

VOIP Users' Conference

Joined the VOIP Users' Conference Call this morning. The was the first chance I've had to join in since I discovered it a few weeks ago. A lot of polite people. Thanks for putting up with me guys.

For those that aren't familiar with the VUCC, it's a Talkshoe-based conference call held every Friday at noon (EST). I've added the badge for it to the left.

Shmoocon count-down


Courtesy of: the Flash Countdown Timer

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I'd guess that what amounts to the Port-Sec (PSec? Portsmouth-Sec) dinner occurred tonight. Those of us that attend (or teach) the series of network security classes (instigated by Rob) at the local college get together twice a year to eat German food and enjoy each other's conversation. Because we're all geeks (Erika, if you deny it, we'll just call you geek-by-association), the conversation tends to center around computers, networks, and security. Thus my claim to the Port-Sec monicker.

The cool thing about this is that we've been holding these dinners for much longer than the whole Bean-Sec/Chi-Sec thing has been going on. This evening's dinner was much more enjoyable because it was a much smaller group. We didn't invite many of the first-year students so the group was able to eat at one large table and we were all able to hear each other (a first!).

The only drawback to the entire evening was the food. Since "Mama" at the Biergarden (in Portsmouth) doesn't "drive" the kitchen any more, the quality of the food has slipped to the point where it's recognizeable that it's German food cooked by someone who's not familiar with it. Authentic German food (that is, good food) has a taste that is based not only on its ingredients, but also how the pans are handled, how the stove is operated, and how the prep surfaces are cleaned. All that I can say is that the Biergarden in Portsmouth, VA is now in dire need of a good German cook. If they don't get one, they risk losing a good-sized chunk of their clientelle. (For anyone that has a German grandmother, here's a hint: I didn't have seconds, not even of the spaetzle.)

For those that didn't attend tonight, you missed a good time (food not withstanding). Hopefully you'll be able to attend in the Spring.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mozilla phone

One of the things that has always annoyed me concerning those really nice VoIP interfaces for Outlook was that most of them are limited to Outlook. Because I normally use a number of operating systems, many of them non-Windows, my ears tend to perk up when something like AbbeyPhone comes along.

It appears to be a SIP-based plugin for Firefox and Thunderbird, capable of running on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It also isn't tied to any one service provider like so many other VoIP tools nowadays.

Sooo... It looks like I'll be playing with it in the near future, seeing how well it works with Linux. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Asterisk and TalkShoe

If you want to connect to a TalkShoe conference via Asterisk, I've worked out a number of ways you can authenticate to TalkShoe from the dial plan. Notes are in the wiki.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Request for public comments?

The older I get, the more I realize that the things you say/write will either have unintended side-effects or will show up in some very interesting places. And, as such, you should be very careful in your choice of words (I was) when someone asks your opinion (even in forums like public Requests for Comment (RFCs)). Hopefully, this blog doesn't count because you receive my opinion without asking for it.

A friend's recent vanity search, which turned up some unexpected responses, prompted me to do one of my own (it's been awhile). The short version of this story is that I may not yet have visited Congress, but my words have. Yikes!

Okay, it was a RFC dealing with constraints on how a specific organization should make its data publicly available. Nothing major but what happens to your words, after they leave your head, can be quite interesting.

ACM update

Had a bit of time to play with the code and added another conference room to the manager and the ability to push calls between the two. The code needs to be cleaned up a bit but you can get an idea of what it does with the below pic. My wife says it's an ugly interface but I'm not one to argue; we both agreed that I have no sense of style/aesthetics about 15 years back.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


Cool! The SciFi Channel is running a number of the Firefly episodes on the 14th!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

System updates

I admit it. I do horrendous things to my Linux systems, often breaking them, sometimes so horribly that the only way to repair them is to reinstall. Such is the case this week. My Mandriva 2007 has suffered a number of "upgrades" and "tweakes" over the past year, so much so that certain services were getting to be a bit unstable.

As I'd been planning to experiment with the Jackd Audio Distro (JAD) and Ubuntu Studio, I downloaded and installed them first. In short, there are a number of tools in those distros that I'd like to have running. However, JAD is FC6-based and Unbuntu Studio is a version or two behind. In other words, there are a number of "known" issues that more recent distros have fixed and that I'm not willing to live with.

For me, the remaining choices were FC8 and Mandriva 2008. I've been hearing good things about FC8 and decided to try that first. Sadly, it's still a bit short in detecting hardware, specifically my stock (built-in) NVidia 6xxx video card. It still has the invisible mouse issue and still requires that the NVidia drivers be installed manually, including a number of prerequisites that the beginning user would find near-impossible to install.

So it's back to Mandriva. It detects the video card properly at install and autoloads the kernel modules for it. The Easy Urpmi service is also available which covers for a number of missing packages in the "free" Mandriva distro.

The one shortcoming in Mandriva that I have to work around is a number of odd RPM dependencies, due to the number of RPM authors who maybe didn't do as much due diligence as they should. My work-around: use Easy Urpmi for installing languages and their dependencies. Everything else, build from scratch. For some of the more cutting-edge stuff (e.g., stuff still in development), you have to build from source anyways.

So here I am blogging, while texlive-texmf (a _really_ big bundle) installs via Easy Urpmi and miscellaneous OCaml libraries are compiling from source. This should take most of the morning.....

Friday, December 7, 2007

Music-on-hold Alternatives

One of the difficulties in using Asterisk is that danged reliance on mpg123 to play MP3's and/or streams. In other words, mpg123 is used to transcode "on the fly". The drawback is that this tool doesn't always work as expected. Audio can, and will, drop out without notice and come back minutes later, also without warning.

In response to an exceedingly bad week of trying to get mpg123 to tolerate some high-end netcasts, I've decided to document alternatives to mpg123.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

With friends like these

Hmmm.. I'm the 10,000th visitor to Digg in 2007? (Yay!) Why don't I feel safe clicking on that link? (Somebody should check on where they're getting their ads from!)

Sunday, December 2, 2007